Torah.org Home Subscribe Services Support Us
  LifeLine
Print Version

Email this article to a friend

Vayeishev

by Rabbi Yaakov Menken


"And [Yosef's] brothers saw that their father loved him more than all the brothers, and they hated him, and they could not speak to him peacefully." [37:4]

How could this be? These are the sons of Yaakov, the forefathers of our people, and apparently they were so filled with hate that they couldn't look him in the face!

This is simply an erroneous reading. They "hated" him because they thought Yosef was trying to displace them all. He had accused them of misbehavior to their father, when they thought their behavior was appropriate. Thus it was he who was offending them, they believed, and they believed their hatred was appropriate. They were mistaken. But the verse is not claiming that they were so angry that they could not look him in the eye -- that would never be acceptable. The word for hate in Hebrew is simply not as intense as it is in English, much the same as its opposite, "Ahavah", can be translated like or love depending upon context.

Both Rashi and Rabbeinu Bechayah comment that the fact that they could not speak to him peacefully was actually evidence of a praiseworthy attribute. Rashi explains, "from their disgrace we learn their praise, that they would not say one thing with their mouths and another in their hearts."

They were not liars. They would not pretend to love him as a brother, maintaining a facade. Such "diplomacy" was foreign to them. To create a plastic face, to act like you love someone while inwardly disliking him or her -- is a terrible trait. It is lying on a very personal level, and when the truth comes out the feelings of betrayal and hatred are justifiably intense.

Such people render themselves untrustworthy. Their expressions of love have no meaning, since they are given without feeling. To say "one thing in the mouth and another in the heart" proves to be destructive to no one more than the actor.

Of course, there is something better -- don't hate. And in the brothers' behavior, we see the method to overcome it. The verse testifies that "they could not speak to him" l'shalom, to peace. To create peace.

The Alshich analyzes the verse, "And G-d turned away from the evil which he had spoken to do to his people." [Exodus 32:14] Given that the Torah permits us to derive anthropomorphic lessons from G-d's "behavior", we see that the turning away follows the speech. By way of his words of rebuke and anger, the anger itself subsided. And this, says the Alshich, is the lesson here as well: "and they could not speak to him" -- they could not rebuke him and change his behavior, even with strong words. Had they poured out their anger with words, it would have left their hearts -- and brought them to peace.

Their is a valuable lesson here, not only for potential speakers, but for potential listeners. Sometimes letting a person chew you out, letting them spill their anger, is very worthwhile. How often, especially when a person remains silent, does the accuser come over afterwards to apologize for being too harsh, or at least express embarrassment by being kind? When criticism is expressed rather than left to simmer, the result can be peace -- a greater and truer peace than were everything left unsaid.

Obviously the ideal is to see the good in others and excise bad feelings entirely. But if something is bothering you too much, it is inappropriate, even evil, to lie and hide it. Sometimes the truth, once expressed, dissipates -- and that should be the goal.

May we always speak "l'shalom" -- to bring peace.


 

ARTICLES ON KI SAVO AND ELUL / ROSH HASHANAH:

View Complete List

A Rosh Hashana Message
Rabbi Mordechai Kamenetzky - 5769

1. Prayer, the Path to Clarity
Rabbi Yosef Kalatzky - 5771

G-d Never Forgets
Shlomo Katz - 5760

Looking for a Chavrusah?

Rosh Hashana and the Kiss of Life
Rabbi Naftali Reich - 5772

First Impressions
Rabbi Mordechai Kamenetzky - 5761

Repentance and Changing History
Rabbi Yehudah Prero - 5759

Frumster - Orthodox Jewish Dating

A Spiritual Time
Rabbi Pinchas Winston - 5769

Happy New Year!
Rabbi Pinchas Avruch - 5762

Knock, Knock!
Rabbi Mordechai Kamenetzky - 5757

ArtScroll

First in the Mind!
Rabbi Label Lam - 5763

The Mystical Tug of the Shofar
Rabbi Naftali Reich - 5766

What's The Big Deal About the "First Fruits"?
Rabbi Yissocher Frand - 5757

> Sound of the Unheard Shofar
Rabbi Eliyahu Hoffmann - 5764

Everyone Counts!
Shlomo Katz - 5772

The Spark is There
Rabbi Label Lam - 5768

Declarations and Taxes
Rabbi Aron Tendler - 5761



Project Genesis

Torah.org Home


Torah Portion

Jewish Law

Ethics

Texts

Learn the Basics

Seasons

Features

TORAHAUDIO

Ask The Rabbi

Knowledge Base




Help

About Us

Contact Us



Free Book on Geulah!




Torah.org Home
Torah.org HomeCapalon.com Copyright Information